Member Monday: Honeysuckle Moon by Linda Boyden

Welcome back to Member Monday! We hope you got to see the spectacular lunar eclipse last night. It’s a pleasure to serve up a second helping of lunar wonder by poet, storyteller and children’s author, Linda Boyden.  You can purchase a hardback copy of Linda’s newest picture book Boy and Poi Poi Puppy at All About Books.  Welcome, Linda!

Honeysuckle Moon
By Linda Boyden ©2014

I lie in night’s velvet deep.
Outside the window
clouds hide the honeysuckle moon,
crickets serenade the languid air,
the night softened by their song.

The clouds disperse.
The full moon bleeds the landscape white.
I rise and walk among the ghostly trees,
the only sound, my metered breath.

An owl soars across the face of the moon,
its body, a crucifix of shadow.
Thunder trembles in the distance.
I fall on my knees, heart pierced by beauty.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

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Member Monday: Water Wasters by Dale Angel

Welcome back to Member Monday. Dale Angel is back is back with another humorous essay.  Welcome, Dale.

Water Wasters

by Dale Angel

Water Wasters have always walked among us, masquerading as upright citizens. But with surveillance equipment, cameras, listening and forensic devices, that can detect suspicious splashes left over from washing cars, they are catching the violators.

Who knew what went on behind closed doors, some even let the water run while brushing their teeth. Shameless hard-core people who don’t fix their broken toilets … the water runs day and night. Today’s electronics can hear that now, including the drips from kitchen faucets.

The use of water as therapy, like bloodletting, may be outdated. Those long warm relaxing showers, soaking in a bubble bath, listening to the click-click of the Rain Bird swinging water across the front lawn, feeling the water in our hands as it bubbles out of the hose without any definite destination as one frivolously pours water on flowers, gardens, shrubs, and trees. Those know no consequences; the liability rests with the water wasters.

The trees that have green leaves are a good indication of blatant violations; water has to be somewhere. Self manufactured leaks carry no leniency. Masquerading as an upright citizen I was almost caught hoarding cups of water for my bees; my neighbor’s bees were visiting too often.

Combat drones have been used for the flushing out of those who are growing green medicine. Fines are steep for emptying the streams; one has to be a serious repeat offender to use the water from fire hydrants after dark. That’s as bad as running cold water down the drain waiting for it to get warm, plundering our natural resources.

I tried to save and use the water from my washing machine; it’s traveling across town anyway mingling with who knows what, but I guess they’re saving it to drink.

My friend got caught carrying a squirt gun. Inclination and raw rebelliousness met. I got caught filling the kiddy pool. I’m now considered an abuser.

When I pay my utility bill I can’t make eye contact. I feel like I contributed to the drought. I used to be flippant, but I’m coming to gripes with my addiction.

We meet up at the lake near the boat ramp in that grey house twice a month. We are in rehab … see you at the next Water Wasters Anonymous Meeting.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

2015 Authors Fair

We’re pleased to announce that the 2015 Authors Fair will be held in the East Wing (near JC Penney) of the Mount Shasta Mall. The Authors Fair will be on November 14, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. (partial shifts permitted at no discount). The Authors Fair will take the place of our regular Writers Forum Meeting. Tables are limited and the table reservation cut-off date is October 30, or before if all slots are reserved, so register early. Prices are as follows:

Members:  ½ table $10     OR     Full table $20

Non-members:  ½ table $20   OR   Full table $40

To complete your table application, click here. See you at the Authors Fair!

Member Monday: Writing is Art by Jennifer Phelps

Welcome back to Member Monday.  It’s a pleasure to once again feature member Jennifer Phelps.  Welcome back, Jennifer!

Writing is Art

by Jennifer Phelps

Writing is art. I’ve been thinking about this a lot lately, but it’s a phenomenon that I’m sure veteran writers have been dealing with for ages. What I mean when I say writing is art is that even if the writing is labeled “nonfiction,” it is a creative endeavor. It is not intended to represent the whole truth, nor can it. It is a slice of life, a snapshot, one angle on the truth in any given moment. That is not to say nonfiction writing is a lie – it’s not! But it is a piece of writing. It is not meant to convey the totality of the feelings and intentions of the writer.

Neither should the writer attempt to explain, justify, or soften the writing. This can be very slippery territory indeed. I’ve never published anything I regret, but I do wish I hadn’t answered questions about some of my pieces, and I have vowed never to do it again. Once, after reading a poem I’d placed in a lit journal, a well-meaning relative asked, “Was this about so-and-so?” She already knew who the poem was about, I’m sure, because enough of the details were recognizable. So the question caught me off guard and I answered, “Yes.”

“I thought so!” She sounded pleased – she’d solved a puzzle. She knew the inside story.  And I instantly regretted affirming her suspicions – because the poem didn’t tell the whole truth. It was only one piece, one facet. If you read that poem and thought, “This is what Jennifer thinks about so-and-so,” you’d be wrong. Did the poem represent a thought I’d had once about so-and-so? Sure. A recurring thought, even. A poetic thought. But it wasn’t the complete story. A poem  can’t be the complete story. It’s a poem. 

Works of nonfiction, poetry, and fiction alike take on a life of their own. Writers know what I mean. When I sit down to write a personal essay, I have something I want to say, but then at some point, craft intervenes. I’m not suggesting everything I write is some monumental achievement of craft, but the aesthetic is there. My writing needs to have tone, cadence, flow, internal consistency. An essay needs to stand alone, to be cohesive. As I’m writing, these elements start to matter. So, sometimes I include ideas that fit with the piece the way it is taking shape, and I omit others that don’t. To quote filmmaker Robert Flaherty, “Sometimes you have to lie in order to tell the truth.” There are no lies in my nonfiction writing, but sometimes the whole truth is confusing, incongruent, too large in scope. As a writer, it’s my job to pare it down.

To tell the whole story in any given piece would be an insurmountable undertaking, and the result would be ridiculous and contradictory. I can’t write: This person really pissed me off, but then I thought about it later and I could see where all the years of abuse she endured while in foster care really affected her ability to emotionally connect, and all things considered she really meant well, so although I felt uncomfortable at the time I guess it was really okay.  Maybe.  It might be the whole truth, but it’s awful writing.  (Unless you’re Allen Ginsberg…then it’s genius.) When I’m writing, I have to stick to the topic and slice through. The result is a cross-section, like a single image from a CT scan. At times the whole picture is unrecognizable from the slices. So it is with art.

It’s important to remember that a piece of writing isn’t a doorway to the innermost thoughts of the writer, or even a window – it’s a keyhole.

There’s another arty element at work here too – the reader. People probably won’t like me saying this (oooh…controversial!) but I think writing is a bit of a Rorschach test. We definitely recognize this factor when viewing paintings. For instance, why is the Mona Lisa smiling? There are a zillion interpretations, and her expression evokes different responses in different people. We’re often comfortable with this type of ambiguity in visual art.

People don’t tend to think of writing this way, though, unless it’s poetry, and even then we often assume there is one “correct” meaning, that the intentions of the writer are present and decipherable in the text. We seem to think that because words have prescribed definitions in certain contexts that we can take them at face value and can read a piece and analyze the writer, the writing, and the subject matter.

I suggest that this is not true!  What a reader takes from any given piece of writing just may say as much about his or her own prejudices, predilections, and state of mind as it does about the writer. Some pieces of creative writing are clearly more subjective than others, but it’s an idea worth considering. In the eye of the beholder, and all that…

There’s a quote I love by Stephen King, from his book On Writing. He says, “If you intend to write as truthfully as you can, your days as a member of polite society are numbered.” If he’s right, polite society and I parted company quite some time ago. I’m okay with it, but I’m still learning how to share my writing, how to respond to the varied reactions I get respectfully while remaining true to my own intentions. I’m finding that in these situations, what I don’t say is every bit as important as what I do say – just like when I’m writing. When I can’t speak to the whole truth, I’m just as honest as I can be – and I try to make it sound good.  That’ll have to do.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!

Member Monday : Too Much Stuff by Dale Angel

Welcome back to Member Monday. Dale Angel is back is back with another humorous essay.  Welcome, Dale.

Too Much Stuff

by Dale Angel

I’m approaching the age where people get that disease “Too much stuff.” It can begin when you find all kinds of leftovers in the fridge brought home from eating out. But that doesn’t concern me as much as the saved containers; the kind that leak BPA plastic into the food. I went to that place to eat because it is supposed to be healthy; is that reasonable?

I also find little pieces of old cheese, a leftover bun, something in a jar—no date on it, half a coke, and unidentifiables that should have moved on long ago.

I never find leftover Southern Comfort, or that Concord grape wine, or Chocolate, the life saving kind that requires occasional trips to the pawn shop; medicine that should always be in-house.

If you have the resources to visit the liquor store, you have probably mortgaged the house or hit the lottery.

These kinds of leftovers, if there are any, are very valuable. Don’t throw it out like other stuff, it’s very useful during bouts of daily stressful unforeseen circumstances called crisis. Read the side effects before taking this medicine.

I’m reforming. I promised myself to quit bringing stuff home. I joined again, but didn’t keep my promise again, and I fell off my intentions … again.

Today, I began with new enthusiasm, because I better understand that Garage sales are addictive. I should be having them, not visiting them. I looked into the back of the cupboards and found things hiding I brought home months ago. No one told me they multiply in areas out of sight, in garages, and in storage containers.

Pretty things that are ornamental, but not useful, have no redeeming value, except your thoughtfulness to send them to someone you think needs a gift.

My sister asked me not to be so thoughtful or she will send them back. She said “they’re as useful as toe covers.”

I tried to return a vase to a friend, she almost attacked me. She said her husband’s Aunts had died and left them all their stuff, and there wasn’t enough room left in the house to hang her car keys. She drove a nail on the outside wall to hang them on.

I’m not the only one with this ”Too much disease.” About everyone has a mild or severe case. I’m ashamed to admit I found a coat bought in San Francisco one summer; it’s never been cold enough to wear it here. The shame comes from the size; it shrank while hanging in the closet.

Rehab has been helpful. I’m ahead of one of my friends who is so proud of her 20 year-old blouse; I quit wearing mine. I’m confident I can add it to my throw-away pile without too much separation anxiety. I have some medicine in the fridge for these kinds of crisis.

A Note from the Webmaster: If you’re a Writers Forum member in good standing and would like to be featured on Member Monday, please send your submission to writersforumwebmaster@gmail.com. Submissions should be 75-750 words, appropriate for all ages and error free. Please include a short bio, a headshot and any related links. The author retains all rights and gives permission to Writers Forum to publish their submission on the website and/or in the newsletter. Thank you!